City approves feasibility report and orders public hearings for 2014 street improvement project

The city of Cambridge is gearing up for its 2014 street improvement project anticipated to begin construction in May.

During the Sept. 16 Cambridge City Council meeting, City Engineer Todd Blank presented information on the street improvement project.

The project consists of reconstructing the streets, sidewalks, storm sewer, sanitary sewer, water main and street lighting on the following streets:

• South Cleveland Street from Highway 95 to Second Avenue SE.

• South  Davis Street from Highway 95 to Second Avenue SE.

• South Emerson Street from Highway 95 to Highway 95 to Second Avenue SE.

• South Fillmore Street from Highway 95 to Second Avenue SE.

• South Garfield Street from Highway 95 to Eighth Avenue SE.

• Second Avenue SE from South Railroad Street to South Garfield Street.

• North Cleveland Street from Highway 95 to Second Avenue SE.

• North Davis Street from Highway 95 to Third Avenue NE.

• Second Avenue NE from North Cleveland Street to North Emerson Street.

• Alleys between North Cleveland Street and North Emerson Street, Highway 95 and Second Avenue NE.

• Fourth Avenue NE from North Main Street to railroad.

• Fifth Avenue NE from North Main Street to railroad.

• Calhoun Street/Place NE from Fourth Avenue NE to North Main Street.

Blank explained the estimated cost of the proposed improvements is $5.3 million. The cost includes estimated  construction costs, plus 5 percent contingencies and indirect costs of 25 percent for engineering, administration, fiscal and legal costs.

The improvements will be funded 80 percent by the city, with 20 percent being assessed to benefitting property owners.

Blank said the assessment rate per single-family residential parcel is proposed to be $5,850 for street reconstruction and $1,300 for alley reconstruction.

He said property owners will have until Oct. 15, 2014 to pay their assessments in full without any interest. If the assessments aren’t paid by that time, the costs will be added to the property owners taxes for 10 years with minimal interest.

Following discussion, the council approved the feasibility report, and also ordered the improvement and assessment hearings for Oct. 21.

Blank said final plans and specifications will be brought back to the Council for final approval in February 2014.

The Council could receive bids and award the project in March 2014, followed by construction beginning in May 2014. Construction could then be complete by October 2014.

Blank explained the project is proposing sidewalks to be placed on one side of all the streets to give pedestrians a safe place to walk. He said the placement of the sidewalks will be determined during final design.

Letter from Department of Human Services

City Administrator Lynda Woulfe distributed a letter the city received from Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson Sept. 12 regarding changes coming to the Minnesota Speciality Health System – Cambridge.

In the letter, Jesson explains just as the Department moved from large institutional settings for people with developmental disabilities years ago, the mission of the current facility is evolving as best practice moves toward greater community integration.

She said current clients of the Cambridge site can be served more appropriately in more integrated settings in the community.

Jesson explains the Department feels the Cambridge site can be repurposed to serve clients of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program who are low functioning and medically needed.

She explains this is a part of a larger effort to develop alternative placements for Minnesota Sex Offender clients who can be served safety in settings that are secure, but less restrictive than the facilities at Moose Lake and St. Peter.

Jesson said she anticipates all current Cambridge clients will transfer to more integrated settings in the community in the spring of 2014, making the facility available for sex offender clients later in 2014 if their transfers are approved by the court. She noted the legal process for sex offender clients can take at least six months.

Jesson said the sex offender program treatment team is currently supporting petitions of six intellectually disabled clients to transfer to the Cambridge site.

The clients range in age from 40-80, and will benefit from the less restrictive, yet secure and highly supervised setting that exists at the Cambridge facility.

Jesson said while the Department has developed the basic framework for the plan, much work remains to be done before it can finalized and implemented.

Woulfe explained the city did not know anything about the plan until receiving the letter from Jesson.

“There isn’t any zoning control the city can exercise over the state on this,” Woulfe said. “We are limited with what we can do with this, and this is a great concern for the community. We will do whatever we can to make sure the community is protected.”

Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer said the Department did inform the city they will hold a public meeting with the community to discuss the plan more in detail, and answer any questions the public may have.

She said the city will inform residents when that public meeting date has been set.

“We will do our best to make sure the security will be the best it can be,” Palmer said. “We will do the best we can to make sure we protect the quality of life and safety for all our citizens.”